What is the Empathy Styles model?

Empathy Styles is a model of personality. It is made up of 7 'styles' of temperament click here for the 7 styles. We are all a mixture of styles, some strong, some average and some weak. Psychologists tell us that these 7 styles are a major factor in determining our behaviour and in making us unique.

Where does it come from?

The Empathy model comes from a 'full psychometric' called the Humm Wadsworth, which is widely used in Australia and New Zealand. click here for a fuller description of the background. If you were to complete the full psychometric you would answer 318 questions, which would then be interpreted by a psychologist who would then give you a full report on your temperament. This would typically be about 75 - 90% accurate. Empathy is not a psychometric in that sense; it simply takes the 7 major drives or styles in the psychometric model and says that we can recognise some of these characteristics in people if we know what to look or listen for. Clearly it cannot give us a detailed interpretation of someone's temperament. What it can do is to maybe show us the major drives in a person, and sometimes those that are absent. This can then give us clues about how to successfully relate to that person.

Is it valid?

As it is not used as a psychometric tool then it is neither valid nor invalid. A better question is whether it will work or not. And we have many examples of it working in lots of different situations. Like any skill whether it works or not depends on how much effort one wants to put into it to learn it and then to put it into practice. In 2 days of training - a relatively small amount of time - one can develop enough skill to be able to use it effectively in everyday working situations.

Is it a 'type' or a 'trait' model?

It is both a 'type' and a 'trait' model. Traits are the ways in which we perceive, relate to and think about our environment and ourselves. A true psychometric test will measure how strongly each of these factors is present in a person - not just whether it's present or not. It will measure, for example, where a person sits on a scale from complete Extraversion to complete Introversion. In the same way the Empathy model will measure how strongly a particular style exists in a person. In contrast, 'Type' theories assess people according to whether they have one 'type' or not - for example, Sensing or Intuition.

Empathy is a mixture of 'trait' and 'type' theory. It describes which 'type' a person may be - for example, Politician. But it goes beyond this by identifying how strongly present the different 'traits' are that make up the Politician style. So, for example, if we recognise the Politician style in someone, we would say that he/she has strong, average or weak Politician. This means that a unique combination of styles is possible and that a person's behaviour (possibly stemming at that moment from their temperament) can be described in a unique way.

Can I change my or someone else's Empathy profile?

Psychologists tend to believe that once you are an adult your Empathy profile will largely remain the same. These are deep inner drives that we hold. One way of exploring this question is to look at your behaviour now and compare it to you when you were much younger. Most of us will find that, although we have much more experience and skill, we can still recognise many of our behaviours now from our younger days. We know that it is possible to change our behaviour in certain situations, which may, over time, lead to a shift in personality. This is the subject of 'personal development', which is, we believe, a fascinating study but outside the scope of this article. So if it is difficult to change our own Empathy profile, it's going to be impossible to change someone else's! The aim is not to change others but to work with them as they are. The value of Empathy is that it helps you to recognise your own inner drives, those of your colleagues or customers and then it gives you a strategy of what to do to create a successful relationship. We believe that managers and leaders start to grow when they give up the idea that their people should be like them.

What's the difference between this model and many other models of temperament or personality?

One way of describing the differences between behavioural models is to use the analogy of an orange. If we say that the orange represents a person then the cut you make in the orange (representing the analysis of that person) will be different depending on where you cut and how deeply. So, for example, you could just slice off the top without touching the flesh, or you could cut right through the centre. Each cut will produce a very different section, yet it's the same orange. And so it is with people and behavioural models - each model will produce a different result, yet it's the same person. The advantage of the Empathy approach is that it is so easy to understand and use.

How do people use it?

People use the Empathy approach in lots of different situations. Typical everyday uses are in sales, in management, in teaching, in coaching and mentoring, and in other everyday situations where someone needs to understand and relate to others who may be very different from themselves.

How can I learn more about it?

The best way is to take the 2-day programme with an experienced Empathy trainer. This would help you to not only to understand the model but also to practice the recognition and strategy modules, which help you to make the 'strategies' necessary to make the shifts in behaviour that

How can I best introduce it into my company?

Introducing Empathy into a company can take a variety of forms. Sales teams, for example, are enthusiastic to have something 'different' to work with and that gives them a competitive edge in the market place by better understanding their prospects and buyers. Management teams also see the benefit of Empathy in understanding their own team better or in managing or leading people in the way that they want to be managed or led. If you can get the person in your business who is the interested in improving the way the business works, then we can speak to him or her about how to introduce it into the company.

How can I be sure that it'll work?

There is no guarantee that it'll work, any more than any other 'people' technique which is learnt and applied by people. At its best it can transform relationships; at the least it will raise people's awareness of others and encourage them to think about how to deal more effectively with others.

Isn't it a form of manipulation?

Whether it's 'manipulation' or 'motivation' depends on the intention with which it's used. Mostly our experience is that people use it to gain insights into themselves and others for mutual benefit.

How can I be sure that my 'reading' of someone is accurate?

The Empathy approach cannot give an accurate 'reading' of other people. What it will do is to give a broad indication of another person's inner drives, which can be refined through observation over time. What it offers is a framework by which people can be assessed, the result of which is that the observer becomes more skilled in observation and interpretation of others' drives and motivations.

How much does it cost?

The cost depends on the programme that you take - whether it's in-company or open - and how many people are involved in the programme. There are discounts for educational and charitable organisations. Any of our distributors will be happy to discuss the price of a particular programme with you.

Isn't 7 styles too many to learn and work with?

The advantage of 7 styles is that it allows us to describe a wide range of people and yet it is still a manageable number to remember. Some people would say that 7 is a 'magic number' - it's the number that people can remember in their short term memories. In fact, we find that it only takes a couple of hours training for people to learn the differences in the 7.

How do I become a trainer or a distributor?

There are some details on the relevant pages, click here for trainer / click here for trainer distributor. The quickest way is to call or email us with your enquiry. Call us on 0207 100 2520 or email here.

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